Equality on the spot
Apr 03, 2014 | 821 views | 0 0 comments | 125 125 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Nobody likes a pop quiz. The phrase alone may hearken some back to the sweaty palms and craning necks of middle school, as unannounced tests of our knowledge are a daunting, always-unwelcome endeavor. But, this week, a different kind of pop quiz was published — and this one has the potential to earn much more than a gold star.

Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club published its first-ever LGBT Legislative Scorecard this week, rating more than 100 state lawmakers serving Southeastern Pennsylvania. Twelve among the group received top scores of 100 — meaning they are currently cosponsoring every piece of LGBT-related legislation included: nondiscrimination, marriage equality, hate crimes and conversion therapy, as well as anti-bullying and the repeal of the state marriage-equality ban in the House and a name-change bill in the Senate.

Essentially, the scorecard calls out our lawmakers. It’s easy for a legislator, especially on the campaign, to say he or she is LGBT-friendly, but pledges of support are a lot different from actions of support. So this is one way to easily illustrate to the community, and to voters — who likely don’t make a practice of combing through co-sponsorship lists on the state legislative website — which lawmakers are following through on their promises, which are not and which need to be targeted with education and outreach to move them closer to supporting LGBT equality.

The first group deserves a pat on the back. They include both longtime and newer lawmakers, and their support and leadership may be crucial to enlisting even greater numbers of cosponsors.

The second group may be the most important — those who have campaigned on pledges of LGBT equality but whose scores don’t reflect a full commitment to that principle. While there were nine perfect scores among the 40 Philadelphia-based representatives and senators, all of whom but one are Democrats, other scores ranged from 17-83. The Philadelphia delegation is largely considered to be leading the way on progressive issues in the state capital — any number that is not a 100 detracts from that. Whether the lack of complete support stems from personal or political reasons, or an actual lack of awareness, these legislators must be expected to meet higher standards on LGBT equality.

Finally, there are the legislators whose scores reflect little to no support for LGBT equality, most of whom hail from the suburbs — although hat-tips must be given to Sen. Daylin Leach (D-17th Dist.) and Reps. Mark Painter (D-146th) and Steve McCarter (D-154th), who all earned a 100. Of the remaining eight senators, six scored a 0, and the other two a 20. Scores like 0 and 17 were also prevalent among Delaware and Chester county representatives, with slightly higher marks in Bucks and Montgomery.

The bills included on the scorecard are not Democratic or Republican, or city or suburban — they are concerning issues of basic human rights: the right to a job, a home, to not be attacked for one’s orientation or identity. These are rights all Pennsylvanians deserve, and all lawmakers need to be expected to fight for these rights — and held accountable when they are not.

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